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Singles don't have to go it alone
Singles, including many divorcees and parents, find understanding and common interests in a Christian group.
By JEAN JOHNSON
Published July 31, 2004
The name of the group is "Singles Reaching Singles in Christ."
But don't let the name give you the wrong impression. Participants are not asked to change their house of worship or to evangelize. And no, it's not another dating club.
Lisa Johnson, who has been with the group for about a year, says it tries to "encourage and reach out to everyone, because lots of churches don't have a (singles) group in this age bracket, mostly 25 years and older."
Because the divorce rate is so high, Johnson said, some of the churches are beginning to recognize the need to get involved in singles groups and counseling.
"It's a great opportunity for singles who have common interests, and people hurting can reach out to help each other from the spiritual and single standpoint," said Johnson, 37, a divorced mother of two.
"Everyone's walk sounds different and we may sound foreign to some people," said the Brooksville resident, "but we're there to help spiritually and build a foundation."
Gerry Gallicchio of Sarasota founded Singles Reaching Singles in Christ 27 years ago after recovering from a nasty divorce. She was a single mom working two jobs to support her two children when her pastor asked her what she felt the church should do but wasn't. Her answer: Form a singles group.
Gallicchio put a notice in the church bulletin, and 59 people showed up. A tribute to the success of the 71-year-old evangelist is the fact that her son met his wife through the singles ministry founded by his mother.
Gallicchio's theories about helping singles are still being sought after. She recalled a telephone call she received three years ago from the Bahamian government. Leaders had heard about a radio broadcast she hosted in Boynton Beach and wanted her to bring a group to them and teach single parents.
"I took 71 people," said Gallicchio. "Bible teachers, people to teach finances, sex, health issues of sex, single parenting and healthy Christian living. It was a great success."
Other successful hands-on events include the annual Praise Rallies held eight times a year at different locations throughout the country. This year's Brooksville Praise Rally will begin at 6 p.m. August 14 at the Assembly of God's Grace Dome. Senior Pastor David Garcia will deliver the message, followed by fellowship, food and door prizes.
Shawn Greene, 33, of Brooksville dedicated his life to Christ in September 1998. He has taught a Sunday school class for singles for about six months. He is active in the singles ministry.
Much of his interest in single parents and their children comes from the absence of his own daughter. That gave him the incentive to help others in a similar situation.
"I have felt God calling me to know what I want to do, and it's time for me to make a final commitment rather than be on the fence," said Greene.
"Having an intimate relationship with God, I let him take control. He said, "I'm not going to change your personality, but I'm going to change your heart.' "
A frequent performer at Above Ground Cafe, a Christian hangout on Jefferson Street in Brooksville, Greene also helps to schedule performances, including that of his brother, Brandon Scott Greene, known as "Legacy."
Although the music and atmosphere of the cafe are Christian, Greene is amazed at the number of people "coming in to see what's happening and admitting they haven't worshiped at a church in 10 years.
"They get to know people to see where they belong. The point is we try to encourage people to get plugged in somewhere. We plant seeds."
WHAT: Christian Karaoke
WHEN: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each Thursday
WHERE: Florida Boys Restaurant, 915 W Jefferson St., Brooksville
CALL: Lisa, 797-0560
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WHAT: CD release party featuring Christian hip-hop artist Legacy
WHEN: 7 p.m. today WHERE: Above Ground Cafe, 131 S Main St., Brooksville COST: $2 at door
CALL: Shawn Greene at (352) 263-6090
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WHAT: Singles Reaching Singles Praise Rally
WHEN: 6 p.m. Aug. 14
WHERE: Assembly of God Grace Dome, 20366 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville